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The Engine 2 Diet: Healthy Fuel for Firefighters

Editor's Note: As part of our coverage for National Firefighter Health Week, which runs Aug. 17-21, we're presenting highlights from Austin Firefighter Rip Esselstyn's book, The Engine 2 Diet. As well as the recipes that follow, be sure to check out our exclusive excerpt from the book. And for more resources on firefighter health, visit our Health and Wellness section and the NVFC's special Health Week page.

Healthy Homemade Hummus

This is the most basic of the spreads. You can find a variation of this recipe in almost any grocery store, but 95 percent of them are made with either olive oil or tahini (sesame paste), which pushes up the fat content. Your best bet is to take three minutes and make a batch on Sunday that will last you for the week.

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2–3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Bragg Liquid Aminos or low-sodium tamari
  • 3 tablespoons water or vegetable broth
  • Blend all the ingredients into a thick paste, using a small amount of water as necessary to achieve desired consistency.

Variations:
Customize by adding one or more of the following:

  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1 roasted, seeded, and chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup dark or Kalamata olives
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup cooked eggplant

Raise-the-Roof Sweet Potato–Vegetable Lasagna
I prepared this lasagna for my first cooking demonstration at the new Whole Foods Culinary Center in Austin. Tim Lafuente, an award-winning chef who is also an Austin firefighter, asked me to join him at this event, where he made an angel hair pasta with chicken, bacon, butter, and oil.

Firefighters are naturally competitive, so the demonstration quickly turned into a contest. No one was declared the winner, but I walked away with my head high because the lasagna was a smashing success: another triumph for plant-happy cuisine!
This lasagna is so good Jill and I chose it to be the main dish at our wedding reception.

Serves 10 to 12

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 small head of garlic, all cloves chopped or pressed
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 can corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 package Silken Lite tofu
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 2 jars pasta sauce (see E2-Approved Foods)
  • 2 boxes whole grain lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
  • 6 roma tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 1 cup raw cashews, ground

Preheat oven to 400º. Sauté the onion and garlic on high heat for 3 minutes in a wok or nonstick pan. Add the mushrooms and cook until the onions are limp and the mushrooms give up their liquid. Remove them to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Reserve the mushroom liquid in the pan. Sauté the broccoli and carrots for 5 minutes and add to the mushroom bowl.

Sauté the peppers and corn until just beginning to soften. Add them to the vegetable bowl. Drain the tofu by wrapping in paper towels. Break it up directly in the towel and mix into the vegetable bowl. Add spices to the vegetable bowl and combine.

To Assemble:
Cover the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch casserole with a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with sauce. This way the noodles cook in the oven, saving time and energy. Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauced noodles.

Cover with a layer of noodles and another dressing of sauce. Add the spinach to the second layer of sauced noodles. Cover the spinach with the mashed sweet potatoes. Add another layer of sauce, the final layer of noodles, and a last topping of sauce. Cover the lasagna with thinly sliced roma tomatoes.

Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the cashews, and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

From THE ENGINE 2 DIET by Rip Esselstyn. Copyright (c) 2009 by Rip Esselstyn. Used by permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.

Professional athlete-turned-firefighter Rip Esselstyn came up with The Engine 2 Diet after learning that some of his fellow Engine 2 firefighters in Austin were in dire physical condition — several had dangerously high cholesterol levels (the highest was 344). By following Rip's program, everyone lost weight and lowered their cholesterol. For more details on The Engine 2 Diet book, visit Theengine2diet.com.




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